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Saturday 19 January 2019

Seven things you should not do when learning Luxembourgish

In my messages about the Luxembourgish language, I spend a lot of time encouraging people to start learning it, especially if you live in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, but also if you just work here. Because “Lëtzebuergesch ass kee Biscuit”*, I also often provide tips on how to be successful in learning this language.

Today I would like to share with you seven things you should NOT DO when learning Luxembourgish.

1. Don’t believe it if someone promises to you that you could become fluent in Luxembourgish if you only take a 30-hour course. Unless you speak German, you should expect at least 200 hours of group courses to get to a decent level and minimum 90 hours of individual tailor-made tuition.

2. Don’t try to learn Luxembourgish and French at the same time; even if you might be highly educated and skilled, my personal recommendation is to first focus on Luxembourgish (or on French if that’s more important to you) and give it at least a year of unconditional love and attention. Then you can start with another foreign language.

3. Don’t expect that attending the courses alone will be enough for you to make significant progress. For every course with a teacher, be it private or in a group environment, make sure you spend at least 4-5 hours of individual work at home learning the verb tenses.

4. Don’t try to translate what you hear or see in Luxembourgish into your mother tongue! Try instead to learn words or expressions in the specific contexts they are used. This is why I highly recommend to (try) to read articles or to listen to the radio in Luxembourgish. Such as: www.100komma7.lu, www.rtl.lu, www.moien.lu, www.eldo.lu

5. Don’t let a day pass by without having contact with the Luxembourgish language. Imagine how far you could get if you learned just one new word per day! I know you think you can do much better than that, so let’s say you decided to learn 3 new words per day: as a result you would acquire at the end of one year 1095 words, which is roughly what’s needed for an elementary or survival level. To help those of you who wish to learn Luxembourgish every day, I’ve created a mobile application called “365 Days Luxembourgish” that you can download and use for free. Here are the links for iOS and for Android.

6. Don’t start to study Luxembourgish only a month before your Sproochtest which is needed in order to acquire the Luxembourgish nationality. The test requires you to have an A2 level in oral expression and interaction and between A2 and B1 level in oral comprehension. If you have many talents but learning new languages is not one of them, make sure you dedicate at least 3 years to attending regular courses. If you enjoy learning new languages and people say you have a talent for languages, 9 intensive months of studying could get you where you want to be. Check the description of each level by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

7. Don’t limit your learning to attending Luxembourgish courses (at work or in a school). Learning is much quicker if you immerse yourself in the language and culture of the country! This means that you should dedicate some time to attending events at which the main language used is Luxembourgish. Some examples include parties organized in the neighbourhoods or villages by the scouts, the sport and music associations, the different political parties or the local church. The City of Luxembourg and more specifically the Integration Commission - of which I am a member - organizes regular events to allow residents from the different communities to get to know each other, such as the Noppesch Fest (The Neighbours’ celebration). Check the web site of your commune for a list of regular events; here is the link to the Luxembourg City Agenda.

*Lëtzebuergesch ass kee Biscuit = Luxembourgish is not easy

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